Top 5 Coolest Caves on Oahu

Photo of Mermaid Caves on Oahu during sunset

Oahu may be known for its beautiful beaches and surfing spots, but it also offers a few incredible caves and coves that are worth the hike! Some of these are ideal for kids; others are only recommended for seasoned spelunkers. Here are our top 3 picks for the coolest caves and coves in Oahu:

Gear up! 

Some of these caves are rather casual and can be explored in slippers, but for some, you should pack the following to make the most out of your spelunking adventure:

  • A flashlight
  • A water bottle
  • Sturdy hiking boots or waterproof, anti-slip barefoot shoes
  • A mobile phone
  • A spelunking partner (never enter caves by yourself!)

1. Mermaid Caves

Located on the Western shore of Oahu, Mermaid Caves is a hidden gem. This cave can only be accessed during low tide, and even then, it requires climbing through a small hole to enter. Once inside, visitors are treated to stunning crystal-clear water and unique rock formations. It may require some effort to visit this cave, but it’s definitely worth it for the picturesque views.

Getting there

The caves are located on the left flank of Forac Beach Park and are only accessible during low tide. This cave is not recommended for young children due to the climb and slippery rocks. There is ample parking along the main road.

2. Kaneana Cave

As you enter the cave, you will see stunning formations of stalactites and stalagmites. The cave has a small pool at the back where visitors can take a dip in the cool water. This cave was once used by ancient Hawaiians for ceremonies, so make sure you treat the area with respect. According to a local Hawaiian legend, it’s supposed to be the cradle of mankind. The cave is pretty dark, so definitely bring a flashlight and proper shoes (there is quite a lot of broken glass along the path). Unfortunately, there are many homeless people camping nearby.

Getting there

The hike to this cave is not easy. You can begin walking right next to the 45 mph sign. Fight your way through the bush and climb the hill in front of you. Then turn right to get around the ledge of the cave. There are actually two caves here. The second is larger and more spectacular.

3. Lāʻie Point State Wayside

Located just north of the town of Laie on Oahu’s Windward Coast, Lāʻie Point State Wayside offers stunning views of the ocean and nearby islands. During low tide, visitors can explore the sea caves that dot the shoreline, some even big enough for small boats to enter. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight for a truly unique experience. Be sure to stay alert and respect any warning signs, as these caves can be dangerous as the high tide approaches.

Getting there

Lāʻie Point State Wayside can be found just off Kamehameha Highway, with parking available at the lookout point. To get to the caves, you need to climb down the rocks, which can be covered in slimy algae and therefore slippery. Laniloa Beach is a secluded beach that is worth checking out as well while you’re in the area.

4. Unnamed cave at the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve

Located in the Koolau Mountains, the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve features a stunning waterfall and a small cave that is home to a peaceful family of bats. The Waterfall is not always there. Sometimes it’s just a trickle of water.

Getting there

There is ample parking. If you are not a local, you will need to pay a fee. The entire trail and the entrance to the cave are quite challenging, both in terms of endurance and coordination. The trail is also not marked very well. You will first hike along the drainage trench and follow the colorful flags on the trees. The entire path is very muddy and slippery. We fell on our asses twice, even though we wore sturdy hiking boots.

Getting to the cave is a challenge in itself. You will have to climb up the cave using a rope.

5. Spitting Cave

The Spitting Cave is located in the far South East on Oahu and cannot really be explored. There is no spelunking action there; it is simply a fascinating viewpoint to watch the waves crash into the cave. Once in a while, some daredevils cliff jump here, but multiple people have fallen victim to the fierce currents here. Some also try the insanely high Leap of Faith cliff jump nearby. The unique natural rock formations are jaw-dropping and frequented by seals and turtles.

Getting there

There are ample roadside parking opportunities along Lumahai Street. From the dead end of the road, it is only a swift 100-meter walk to the spitting cave.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *